Ripon's Hornblower facts

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

• The Setting the Watch ceremony has been carried out every evening on Ripon's Market Square for over 1,200 years.

• Ripon has four ceremonial horns. There is a fifth horn stored at the top of the city’s obelisk which was sealed for 100 years in 1889 and was said to contain seven gold sovereigns. It was opened up three years early, in 1986, and found to contain only a bill for repairs. It was resealed for a further 100 years with Maundy money given to the city by the Queen and a new bill for repairs.

• The current hornblower, George Pickles, hands out lucky wooden pennies at his daily ceremonies and receives letters and emails from tourists around the world who swear their penny has brought them luck.

• It is said if the horn is not sounded satisfactorily, the face of Ripon’s first mayor, Hugh Ripley will appear in the attic window of his former home, now The Wakeman’s House Cafe, and tragedy will befall on the city.

• A tax was imposed on Ripon’s citizens to pay for the first wakemen. It was levied according to the position of their front door. If their door faced onto the Market Square or main thoroughfare, they were considered well-off and charged four pence per door. If it was round the back they were considered poorer and only charged one pence per door.

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